Home > Our Environment


Previous Link | Next Link


We are not separate from the universe in which we live. Our lives are fully dependent on our environment and our spirituality needs to be aware and concerned about the universe in which we live.

This page will have information, thought-provoking articles, comments on the cosmos, our local enironment and some challenges to rethink our attitudes.

Boarding the Wrong Bus

Vumani Msimang - Environmental Lawyer at Venn Nemeth & Hart Attorneys.

Fracking is a perfect example of what can be done to boost the economy of the country. It is estimated that the shale gas industry can contribute up to R200 billion a year to the country’s GDP and create more than 700 000 job opportunities. Surely that has to be mouth-watering stuff to government and potential investors, especially in the light of the high levels of poverty and unemployment in the country, and hence the need for more investment into the economy.

At the same time, fracking is a perfect example of what unsustainable development is about. At the moment fracking is under a moratorium in more than 140 countries in the world, simply because it is generally agreed that there are very serious environmental impacts associated with it.

Fracking is a means of extracting natural gas from deep underground. This entails drilling a few hundred meters into the ground to form a sort of a very deep well. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals are injected under tremendous pressure into a well. The pressure exerted by water fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow out more freely for extraction.

In a country where fresh water is very scarce it seems unthinkable that the use of such high quantities of fresh water for fracking can be sustained and justified. Furthermore, the chemicals used will inevitably have a detrimental impact on the underground water as well as on the environment in general. Sustainable development envisages that everyone has the right to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, by ensuring that development and use of natural resources take place in a manner that is sustainable while promoting justifiable socio-economic development. Fracking is definitely not congruent with this notion.

The country has enough problems as it is in terms of environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, pollution, and depletion of natural resources. We don’t want to add to these problems through fracking. There is a bottom line here. Fracking, if allowed, will eventually lead to serious problems no matter what ‘best practices’ are adopted in the process. It’s like boarding a bus to Johannesburg and hoping to end up in Cape Town. The bus goes to where it says it is going to and if one has a problem with that then one is in the wrong bus. The country does not have sufficient water resources to sustain fracking and the chemicals used in fracking. The resultant waste water will cause serious environmental damage. That is where the fracking bus is going to and if we want to end up elsewhere then we had better not board.

Original post at:http://www.vnh.co.za/boarding-the-wrong-bus/

Journey to Mars

Here is a You Tube animation of the journey of the "Curiosity" Mars landing craft.

Enjoy the ride!

Environmentalism, Capitalism, and Contemplation

Dr. Nick Rivers-Moore

Recently, concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide passed the threshold of 400ppm. Such conditions were last experienced on earth some three million years ago, and outside any point of reference humans have evolved within. While the media and economists may try to convince us that there is not real crisis, and that science will find an answer, the reality is that climate systems are highly likely to have a positive feedback system, such that a 2°C increase is likely to lead to a 3°C increase and so-on beyond 6°. This terrifying spectre, so underwhelmingly down-played at the most recent Climate Change Conference, may yet lead to human catastrophe on the levels Thomas Malthus predicted, and which for so long have been downplayed as a consequence of the agricultural revolution. Numbed into complacence by the messages we hear from world leaders, the loudest message of all is from the capitalist machine, ever hungry for more and more resources into the furnace of industry, annual GDP targets. Business, even within the environmental sector, reduces individuals to timesheets, and while performance is measured by achievement of KPAs (and even so-called green KPAs), the collective effect of all of the well-met Key Performance Areas is a globalised economy operating way beyond ecological thresholds, and which seems to have lost touch with the human message. To this add the looming spectre of fracking in South Africa.

So, how should we be responding against this? A starting point is to be aware – conscious that we are within a paradox of being both consumers (and thus part of the problem) and conservationists. In Rudyard Kipling’s book “Kim”, the main character, Kimball O’Hara, a street orphan in India, repeatedly asks himself the question “Who is Kim?”. He is faced with the paradox of having to play the “Great Game” (in the case of the story, his role as agent of intrigue within the Colonial machine, but in our case perhaps the game of being a team player within the corporate world) versus fulfilment of his spiritual yearnings with his adopted Buddhist teacher. We are all faced with such a paradox. Ultimately our journey is to balance these, to recognise that we are in the world but not of the world within our context in Christ Jesus.

comments powered by Disqus